Did you know that you could bypass the normal paperwork and procedure for getting a student transfer in Wake County by appealing directly to the superintendent?
As noted in today's article, that's evidently what school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman's family did to get their daughter transferred, with bus service provided. She's one of only 15 students in all of Wake County who are attending their current school based on an "administrative transfer" approved by the superintendent.
Michael Evans, Wake's chief communications officer, said that then-interim Superintendent Donna Hargens had approved in January a verbal request from the parent at Goldman's address in Cary to transfer to Davis Drive Middle School. (He worded it that way without saying Goldman's name due to privacy rules.)
Until then, Goldman's daughter had been a magnet student at Martin Middle School. Pulling out of Martin meant that she would normally have gone to her base school, which is West Cary Middle. That schooli is closer than Davis Drive.
Speaking for Hargens, Evans said there were "extenuating circumstances" for approving the transfer to Davis Drive and that it was within board policy, He cited privacy rules for not saying why it was approved.
The transfer was granted under Section B(5) of the transfer policy which says "the Superintendent or designee may administratively assign a student to any school in the system when the Superintendent or designee determines that such action is in the best interest of the student and schools affected, and that such action would not contravene the overall intent of the Board’s school assignment policies."
Unlike a normal transfer request, Evans said there's no paperwork that has to be filed.
Also unlike a regular transfer request, Evans said administrative transfers come with transportation.
Wake extended an existing bus route for Davis Drive that primarily serves the area right around the school. The bus stops directly in front of Goldman's house as the first stop in the morning. According to Google Maps, the stop is between 5.2 and 6.5 miles from the next stop.
Evans said that only one student is picked up at the stop at Goldman's address.
In addition, Evans confirmed that then Superintendent Del Burns had approved a request in January 2010 for a bus stop for Martin Middle in front of Goldman's address. It's 0.3 miles from one stop and 0.4 miles from another one on the route.
Evans said that 2010 request was also within board procedure.
In what could be a rare instance, both Allison Backhouse and Yevonne Brannon agreed on an issue. They said that approving Goldman's request looked fishy.
"One of the things that the public wants to feel is that everything is transparent," said Brannon, chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition. "No matter what the circumstances, whether it’s boards meeting privately or board members making private requests for transfers, that’s not transparent."
Goldman did not return requests for comment Friday.